LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Criminal charges have been filed against the developers apparently restarted construction on five unpermitted homes built into the side of the Santa Monica Mountains, rather than demolishing them as previously ordered by the city.
LA City Attorney Mike Feuer said he has filed 35 criminal charges against Shahra and Ester Ghalil for alleged building and safety violations in connection with the continuing construction of five partially built homes on Woodstock Road in Laurel Canyon. The homes, which were built in the late 1990s, are each three stories and 5,000 square feet.
"These unpermitted structures in the Santa Monica Mountains were supposed to be demolished nearly 20 years ago, and yet we allege the current developers have been ignoring the city's order and continuing to work on structures that should no longer be there," Feuer said in a statement.
The structures were the first to be built as part of a 21-home development. Permits were issued for the homes between 1998 and 1999, but construction was halted in 2002 and the developers were ordered to conduct an appropriate environmental impact assessment. That review never happened, and a year later, all five homes were ordered to be remain secure with no further construction allowed until they removal.
But late last year, neighbors reported hearing building activity resume to the L.A. Department of Building and Safety. Inspections determined that a new developer, the Ghalils, had acquired the properties and were planning construction at all five sites, according to the Feuer's office. Since then, the city has issued new orders to stop all work and for the owners to comply with the abatement order still in effect.
The Ghalils face misdemeanor charges of failing to obtain permits before resuming construction, failure to obey the city's orders to comply, and failure to remove the vacant, unfinished structures.
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